ISLAMABAD: The Finance Ministry’s Pay and Pension Commission is to consider recommendations of Secretaries Committee, comprising all top bosses of ministries, to increase their salaries at par with ‘market salaries’, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
At a recent meeting of Secretaries Committee, Cabinet Secretary Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera stated that the matter of salary structure and disparity of the Federal Government employees was discussed in the Cabinet meeting on December 28, 2021 and on January 4, 2022. There was general consensus that employees in BPS-1 to 16 were paid market-competitive salaries, while the officers in BPS-17 and above, particularly those in BPS-21 and 22, were being paid far less as compared to the market. He further stated that the Finance Minister has assured that he would submit Pay & Pension Commission’s report/recommendations to the Federal Cabinet in February 2022.
Secretary Cabinet suggested that the Sub-Committees of Secretaries’ Committee should firm up its recommendations on the salary structure/ disparity and housing issues, and bring it to the special Secretaries Committee meeting for discussion and finalization, so that this could be sent to Finance Division/ Pay & Pension Commission before the end of the current month to ensure incorporation of the same in their report to be submitted in February.
During discussion on three-tier structure implemented in the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Establishment Division apprised the members that the proposal of 3-tier structure was presented to Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) which directed the Establishment Division to examine the proposal and formulate its recommendations.
According to the Establishment Division, the 3-tier structure was initially deployed in Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training as a pilot to study the impact of 3-tier and 5-tier structure of work disposal at the Ministries and Divisions over a period of 4 months.
After the small pilot study against three parameters, i.e., time taken for disposal, quality of disposal and efficacy of new pilot system the following were the findings: (i) timeline: it took more time for file disposal under 3 tier structure, than the 5-tier structure; ( ii) quality: was observed to be better under 5-tier structure than 3-tier structure; and (iii) effectiveness: 5-tier structure was effective enough and the Secretariat Instructions empowered the Secretary himself/ herself to ensure speedy disposal of business through delegation under his/ her administrative control.
It was recommended that the existing 5-tier structure may be retained and Secretariat Instructions already in place may be utilized.
The Secretary Education, while acknowledging MS Wing’s efforts, by and large agreed with the findings that the prevalent 5-tier structure was better, which is more compliant with the Rules of Business 1973, and the Secretariat Instructions Manual. Another member commented that the study had not clearly defined its objective whether it looked for quality of proposals or speedy disposal. In every bureaucratic system around the world, the initiating officer is the desk officer in BPS-17 or equivalent. The dak (letters) addressed to the Secretary mostly consisted of 50% reminders, letters for information, etc. The requirement was that the segregation of the important dak from the ordinary was made before putting up the cases for the Secretary.
The solution resided with delegation of power by the Secretary within his/ her Ministry and he/ she must also ensure that the delegation is utilized at each level for disposal of cases in a timely manner.
One of the members, while commending the MS Wing for their comprehensive presentation on the 3-tier structure, pointed out that the perception was that the size of bureaucracy was huge and needed to be curtailed for the purpose of efficiency and efficacy.
The proposal of reducing the tiers of hierarchy in the Federal Secretariat from 5 to 3 was rather abrupt and the Government should do a similar study on 4-tier structure first. Another suggestion was to focus on capacity building of the officers to ensure quality and add value.
The Cabinet Secretary appreciated the efforts of MS Wing in conducting the pilot study of 3-tier structure in M/o FE&PT and suggested that a study on “time utilization of Ministers and Secretaries” may also be conducted.
While agreeing to the findings and the contention that the Secretaries are already empowered under the existing Rules of Business and Secretariat Instructions to delegate and ensure quick disposal, he further highlighted the usage and efficacy of the e-office deployment, which offered opportunities of even rationalization of workload down to the section level.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022